As the days are drawing nearer to Christmas I can feel the ticking of the time clock. You know the one, too many things to do and not enough time to do them all. But some things are worth the time investment. Like homemade Carmel rolls. It’s one of our holiday traditions. Every year on Christmas Morning I wake very early. And in the quiet stillness, I turn on the lights of the tree, make the coffee, and put on some Christmas Carols very softly. I spend a few moments cherishing the peaceful joy of this holiday season. Remembering all of the blessings I’ve received throughout the year from family and loving friends. That’s when I turn the oven on very low, and place inside of it, a foil wrapped pan of lovingly made Carmel rolls. They remain here just marinating in warm buttery carmel. They wait patiently as my sleepy-eyed, now-grown children stagger out of their beds and gather by the tree. My 9 year-old will be the most eager and he’ll begin by passing out the Christmas Stockings. They know this comes first, even though they can see all of the festively wrapped packages just calling to them from under the tree. The grown children, my daughter and two of my sons pretend that they aren’t really excited. There used to be such a build up to Christmas Morning. They’d be snooping and shaking packages, even peeking! (Can you belive it? I was seriously shocked when one of them confessed to me that for about four Christmas’ they knew every present they were getting days before they were opened! What scoundrels they were!) But once the anticipation had built to a terrorizing level, the unwrapping would begin. There would be shrieks of delight as ribbons were tossed about. Every now and then, a panicked voice would chime in ‘”where are the scissors?” When they’d come across a ribbon too tightly tied.
Once these ‘present festivities’ had passed.. they knew what was yet to come. Christmas Brunch. While they played with their gifts, I would put the finishing touches on my favorite meal of the year. Grapefruits that I had halved and sectioned and topped with a cherry to make them festive, were put at each person’s place at the table. Eggs, bacon and sausage. Warm banana bread. Orange Juice and coffee. And Carmel Rolls. The children rushed through the interruption of having to eat a meal when there were so many new things to play with. So it would be the adults left to linger and savor their rolls and coffee in glorious peace.
I spend one whole day making pan after pan of Carmel rolls. Today is that day. I make several so that I can share my favorite Christmas tradition with the people I care about. I am excited to give Goose a pan to share with his family on Christmas morning. My 9 year-old is here to help me today… thank goodness. It’s quite a process. I roll out the dough and spread it with butter, then sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Roll them up and slice the dough into twelve rolls. I place the rolls into pans of carmel that I make from cream and brown sugar and just a dash of cinnamon. Then they sit covered til they raise.. once they are about to erupt from the pan, I bake them. Here’s the part I need help with.. as I pull the pans out of the oven, I tip them over to cool on sheets of waxed paper that I’ve spread out. Once tipped.. the carmel oozes over the hot rolls, and as it does.. (this is the critical part…) someone has to be there to lick the excess carmel from the wax paper. My son is now highly skilled at carmel licking. I’m soo proud!
Goose of course was texting me throughout the process. Step by loving step he participated in the preparations. I think he could almost smell them baking through his cell phone. So when Sunday came he asked if we could go Christmas shopping together at a mall in Rochester. I still had a few last gifts to purchase to make too. So I packed my bag and a pan of rolls and drove to Goose’s. When I arrived, the dogs knew I had a special treat and I had to barricade the back door of the car so they couldn’t have a taste. I told them it was supposed to be a surprise for Goose. They didn’t want to keep this secret. But I managed to keep them under wraps.
Goose heard the dogs and came to rescue me from their attentions. He greeted me with a big hug and admonishments to the dogs. “I dont’ know what’s gotten into them.”
I smiled and said, “Everyone is getting excited for the holidays.
The mall was packed with holiday shoppers. But the spirit was alive and bustling. There were decorations hanging from every possible fixture. Anything to inspire shoppers to make their purchases. I always enjoy the Christmas Carols playing as I shop. It creates a lightness inside of me. Goose and I strolled cheerfully hand in hand through the crowds, discussing what items to search for. I asked Goose if he had a list of things to get and he said he’d given his daughters in law money to make purchases for the grandchildren on his behalf.
“It’s easier that way” he claimed.
I asked what shopping he had to do then.. and he responded, “we’ll get to it.”
I began searching in earnest for the remaining things on my list. In a large department store I found the right sizes and colors I needed and even got gift boxes. Then it was to the book store where I found books for my granddaughter and Tammy and Michele. Next we passed several kiosks in the center aisles of the mall, selling all sorts of holiday gizmos. Then Goose’s attention was drawn to the left up ahead of us.
“There it is..” he said as he pulled me in that direction. A kiosk that sells gift cards for stores at the mall. We stood in line as other shoppers chose the cards they wanted. Goose was up next.. and he ordered gift cards for his daughters in law.
“Now they can get what they like.” was his claim. It sure makes shopping easier. And no packages to carry or hide or wrap! He might be onto something, I thought as I shifted the shopping bags I’d been lugging from store to store. Once his order was complete we meandered back through the crowds and unloaded my purchases and the envelope of his gift cards into the car. I’m sure his arm was exhausted from carrying that envelope, lol.
On our way back, Goose told me about a wonderful historic restaurant called The Hubbell House. It’s a fantastic restaurant in the tiny Minnesota town of Mantorville. As we drove up the street, cars were lined up for blocks. I doubted we’d even be able to find a seat without a reservation. But Goose had faith and a hungry stomach. We were indeed seated at the tiniest table you can imagine. But the food is wonderful and so is the man seated across from me!